Monday, October 25, 2010

The Pursuit of Peace







 We talk a lot about the pursuit of happiness in this country, which strikes me as somewhat antithetical. Happiness is rarely found by seeking it. Its pursuit actually chases it further away.

Peace, on the other hand, is a commodity whose pursuit is sometimes necessary. It is not a state that comes naturally or easily for many of us. 

I believe that peace is worth pursuing. It may take some effort. One’s natural inclination might be towards agitation, worry, stress, drama, or over-activity. If that’s the case, peace must be actively sought.

Although, like happiness, peace may sometimes sneak up as a nice surprise, more often its attainment requires the employment of some spiritual discipline.

Sweet peace should be sought like a lover. Pursued. Practiced.

The first step is just to stop.

Stop whatever it is you’re doing, thinking, manipulating.

It takes a real effort to stop, but that is the active pursuing.

Then pray. Read. Wait. Meditate. Recite. Breathe. Believe. Empty yourself. Go outside. Whatever works for you.

And wait some more, trusting that it will come. That different way of looking at things. That slower way of breathing. That resting.

I had a unique experience of peace this weekend.

My husband and I had gone up to check on our lake cabin, which we thought surely must be falling in from neglect and nonuse. The creatures whose habitat had been invaded by its presence were working on reclaiming the territory.

We got there close to dusk, and I set about puttering and straightening. My husband grabbed a beer and told me to come out on the dock with him. I was more in a Martha than a Mary mood. Reluctantly, I grabbed one myself and followed him down the treacherous steep path to the water.

He told me to just sit down and be still for a minute.

This is what we saw:


...the moon was wagging its tail at us.

Just as Katie Scarlett never had a hankie when she needed one, I never have a camera handy. So I whipped out my Iphone and tried to capture a moment of Deep Peace. Listen to the waves lapping at the end. (I wish I hadn't cut it off so soon...but I'm impatient!)

Within a matter of minutes, it went from:


to


to


to



We sat on the dock and listened to the stillness.

The words from a calligraphy of a Gaelic blessing I'd bought at a junk shop came to mind.

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the light of the world to you.

As I type these words, I hear the rumblings of thunder and the splatter of rain outside my window.

I am reminded that no matter what roiling storms surround us, there is a deep peace at the center of all things.


Lord, help me remember to actively pursue the peace you have already given me.

***************

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

"For this is what the LORD says:
       "I will extend peace to her like a river..."" (Isaiah 66:12)

***************

How do you actively pursue peace? 


5 comments:

Rebecca said...

First, let me say that since I've been out of town I just read the blog that illicited so many responses and I have to add my own. I know that your hopes and dreams about Margery were probably a bit different from what you've done, but what you've done is what we've needed, so I guess you've been guided to provide exactly the musings you've offered. I agree with someone who said if the blog had become too esoteric, then it would have ceased to be this one.
In searching for peace, obvious physical ways are to be with my dogs on a walk (or all the animals, dogs and cats at home), swimming a LONG swim - 2000 to 2500 yards so my monkey mind is shut off. However, I think real peace must come from within. I don't think I've been very successful at achieving that one on a steady basis.

Kim said...

I love this video! What a beautiful reminder of what can be achieved if we stop and listen.

I head to the mountain trails when I am seeking peace. Then I focus on all of my senses - one at a time. I take in the view, the smells, the sounds, and the movement of my feet on the rocks. I stop and smell any wild flowers or plants that are visible. This combination of slowly moving my body and mind to one area at a time helps me forget about the problems that were just bothering me.

This brings me into such a awareness of God's presence that I can talk freely to Him, praise Him and rest my mind.

Your musings are perfectly timed, powerfully real, and God-breathed. Thanks for your inspiration. Love,
Kim

Allison said...

"But there is an undercurrent of peace that is not entirely disturbed by any outside event. In spite of my follies and my shortcomings, I do believe that God loves and pities me and will yet perfect that which concerneth me. It is a great mystery. But so is everything." Katy Mortimer in "Stepping Heavenward" by Elizabeth Prentiss

I had to post this quote. I am currently reading this book and it is AMAZING:) I am in the midst of downsizing. We are packing up all of our stuff in boxes. It is crazy. But, amidst the crazy there is a river of peace. An Anchor of my soul. So, whether we are hanging on to the Anchor with one finger or two hands we can still feel His peace.

Love,
allison

Cheri said...

"Happiness is rarely found by seeking it.Its pursuit actually chases it further away." How true. How true. When we seek to find happiness,we always turn in and that's the last place we will ever find it. We will just be an empty pit that we can never fill.

Peace for me comes when I let the truth in and the lies out. Although I wish I could turn it off, my mind is always spinning. I'm going to be thinking about something so I try to make sure it's the truth. Believing the truth helps me to let go. Letting go stops the running and I can actually be still and know that He's God.

Lately, I've been trying to limit the time I spend with negative voices. I realized that I have been allowing them to rob my peace. Negativity and anxiety are contagious.

And of course, pursuing an always more intimate relationship with the Prince of Peace. We can never go wrong there!

Much love. . .

Desiree said...

Excellent post. And your cabin seems perfectly situated in a place that helps the pursuit of peace just a little bit!! Great video, btw.

Much love always,

Desiree